We hate to be negative this time of year, but gift-giving can be a challenge. What can you get for your picky loved ones without going broke? Here are a few suggestions…
- Turn loose change into gift cards. If you have a big jar of coins, seek out a Coinstar machine, usually located at supermarkets and discount department stores. If you dump your coins in for cash, you are charged a fee. But if you exchange your change for gift cards, there’s no fee and the choice is extensive, including gift cards for popular retail clothing stores, movie theaters and restaurants. Gift-card selection depends on location. Coinstar.com
- Try thrift shops for retro clothes for the hip teens (and millennials) in your life. Or a funky old lamp, bookends, teacups, old shot glasses. It may take some time to hunt down that special gift, but that’s part of the fun.
- Pick out some special eats. Who doesn’t love food? One or two items of something especially delicious will make your gift-getters smile! We advise that you do not purchase pricey premade gift baskets, since the individual items within the basket are often small-portioned and low-quality (except for maybe a gift basket from your favorite food market such as Zabars.com, but these baskets are NOT inexpensive!). Some favorite foodie mail-order companies: VitalChoice.com, KatzsDelicatessen.com, BarneyGreengrass.com, FossilFarms.com, AllenBrothers.com, MagnoliaBakery.com, FaidleysCrabcakes.com.
- Check out craft beers and sodas. Wine used to be the holiday gift beverage of choice, but now there are more craft beer breweries than ever, offering crazy-labeled (and delicious!) beers to please the person who has everything. Multiple breweries are located in every state, and even if you don’t love beer, they’re fun to visit. Breweries usually sell selected six packs or “growlers,” which are large jugs that each hold about 64 ounces of fresh-brewed beer. Here are a few well-known regional craft breweries: NewBelgium.com, GreenFlashBrew.com, GooseIsland.com, JesterKingBrewery.com, SmuttyNose.com, BluepointBrewing.com. Craft soda sites: ABCBrew.com, FiveStarSoda.com, WildBillsSoda.com.